Archive for the ‘struggles’ Category

Nowadays it seems like my options are morning…or never

This whole summer it seems like exercise has been the bane of my existence.

I really never quite got there with any of my exercise programs – well, at least not until a couple of weeks ago, when I mashed together one of my favorites (high intensity cardio intervals on the nordic track) and HIIT (or high intensity interval training) on the ground.

That combination – while a total bitch – is killer.

And at the end of two rounds of HIIT, sandwiched between the cardio, I am almost always working out until failure. It’s great. And what’s even better is that I am seeing improvement! I can do more of each of the exercises than I could when I started and my form, for the most part, is improving by the day.

Just as I was hitting my groove on this new and improved exercise routine, however, my subconscious tossed up yet another block: If I don’t exercise in the morning, I don’t. And this from a woman who used to teach exercise classes at 5:15 – P.M.

What is going on?

Instead of beating myself up about it, as I am wont to do, I’ve decided to just accept it.

A.M. workouts it is. Now that school is starting again, it’s going to be a little tougher, but I am committing (hence putting it here, in writing).

The reason for the pubic declaration is thus:

Today, instead of working out immediately, I went straight to work and didn’t actually get around to exercising until 5:00. And trust me, by the time I got started, I had I spent more time – and almost as much energy – trying to convince myself to do it than I did on the exercise itself!

My body didn’t feel right.
I’m too full from lunch.
I have a headache.
I’m hungry.
I’m tired.
I feel sluggish.
I don’t want to.
It’s too late.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
I don’t have any umph….

You name it, I tried to sell myself on it.

Ironically when I finally got started it turned out to be one of my best workouts ever: 400 calories in just over 30 minutes – heart rate through the roof when it needed to be, coming right back down where I wanted it to be in the short (30 second) time allotted. When I was done, I was a stinky, soppy mess. And I felt great.

But was it worth the hassle of having to fight with myself every step of the way to go get my workout clothes, put them on, find the heart rate monitor, set the timer up, etc?

The jury’s still out.

So, tomorrow, morning it is. And the day after, same thing.

Ever since I was a kid, the Fall has brought with it new rhythms and routines that within just a few weeks became seamless and easy. Let’s hope that this autumn is no different. Until then, morning it is, as never really doesn’t seem like much of an option.

Getting back on the horse

Two days ago, I was in the middle of a binge. It was the first one I’d had in months – a quick look at my electronic food diary revealed that the last one happened earlier this year on Monday, March 29.

For that one, I had an excuse, sort of.

If you recall, I was trapped in an airplane and hadn’t had any vegetables to speak of for several days. I went nuts – figuratively and literally on raw flax bread and almond butter.

It wasn’t pretty. And I felt like crap for at least two days after the fact.

This last Thursday, I had no such excuse. Other than I was completely stressed out and instead of choosing to manage my state, I surrendered to (well, in fact, I pretty much invited them in) all of my old standbys. In other words, I stuffed my face and didn’t think to clearly or consciously about what was really going on.

In the space of two hours, I had my lunch, my snack, and four high energy protein bars. Yes, you read that correctly: four. Not one. Not two. Not three. But FOUR! It was really over the top.

What was even more over the top is that I had another one in my hand. And I was actually thinking, “Well, if I eat these other SIX, this will never happen again.”

Thank goodness something – still not sure what it was (unless maybe it was a gag reflex) – snapped me out of it.

My normal routine following such a feeding frenzy would have been to beat myself both mentally and at the gym and probably skip dinner to boot.

This time, I decided to take a different tack. This time, I decided to forgive myself.

In fact, I ate dinner (albeit a very clean dinner of cauliflower rice [dressed with a touch of sesame seed oil and Braggs amino acid] and raw asparagus) and I went to bed, without exercise. It was a conscious choice not to exercise, because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it in a way where I wouldn’t be punishing my body for my mind’s bad behavior.

The only thing that I regret about that decision is that I didn’t do yoga – not because of anything to do my body (though one could argue that yoga always does a body good), but because of the potential it would have had for quieting the mind.

The day had been so bad – and there had been so much negative energy thrown at me from so many quarters – when I finally managed to go to sleep, I had nightmares. In fact, they so were bad that I woke Michael J up screaming! (As he pointed out to me the next morning, the reason you do yoga before bed is to calm the negative energy so that you can sleep more restfully.)

Even though I had nightmares – which could have very easily resulted in one or both of us getting a black eye – I did sleep over 10 hours, a sure sign that I needed it.

Yesterday, I decided that I had to get back on the horse.

In other words, no matter how bad the day before had been, there was no excuse for 1) engaging in negative self talk that might lead me back down the previous black hole or 2) continuing to overeat.

In the spirit of nurturing myself (because obviously the binge was my body – if not my mind – crying out for attention), I began to let go of things that were no longer serving me. I canceled all of my appointments that could be canceled without harming someone else, I discharged one of my pressing work obligations, I moved deadlines, I changed the things that I found myself consistently complaining about, and I made sure that I had plenty of fun, healthy food. In fact, in addition to my old favorites, which I may getting a bit bored with actually, I also tried @choosingraw’s Broccoli Hummus recipe, which, I must say, is absolutely divine. (Note: If you’re raw and you’re looking for a hummus recipe that doesn’t have tahini and a ton of olive oil, look no further!)

I also went for a walk and soaked up the sun, choosing to focus on my mental health (I took time out of my walk to watch the neighbors’ horses frolicking in the field) and increasing my Vitamin D than on burning off the calories that I had consumed the day before.

It was a nice gentle day and even though my tummy may be a little bigger than it was three days ago, I (the physical, the mental, and the emotional parts of me) felt loved and nourished.

This morning, I exercised normally and for the first time in a long time it just felt like good, honest exercise. It didn’t feel like I was punishing myself or, worse, like I was mad at my body. It felt good. It felt a lot like what I imagined it must have felt like for those horses who were playing joyously in the sun warmed grass.

Today I feel back to normal.

It took two days to feel physically better after consuming nearly the double of my typical intake of sugar.

It took two days to feel mentally better about the decisions I made (on Thursday) and all of the the ones prior that led up to it.

It took two days to feel emotionally better after coming to terms with the stressors in my life that I had pushed aside up until the point where my body forced me to listen.

Am I glad that I consumed 1,000 calories in less than 20 minutes? Not really.

But I am glad that I realized that the binge was a reflection on the state of my life – as opposed to the state of my body.

And I am glad I realized that there are things that I can do (and, as noted, have already begun to do) to make sure that days like Thursday become fewer and further between.

Learning to Listen

Over the last few weeks I have been doing my best to learn to listen to and, subsequently, trust my body.

I’m doing this, in part, because I am beginning to appreciate that my longest term, most committed relationship to date is not the one I share with my 19 year old long haired white tortoise shell cat, but the one that I share with my body.

And unlike all of the men in my life, the relationship that I have with my physical self is literally, “Til death do us part.”

With a little help from some very talented weight loss coaches, I’ve come to understand that I need to love my body, because when I start loving her (notice I did not say it), she will start loving me back.

When I start trusting her, she will start trusting me.

And when that happens, we will begin to do what we want.

And what we want, ostensibly, is to feel great, have tons of energy, and live comfortably in our skin.

My journey towards self acceptance started about two years ago when I realized that there was some part of me that still linked weight loss to death. I named that part of me Kathy Jo and have since teamed up with her so that we can, in fact, reach our shared health goals.

Today, my body was hungry. Very hungry.

In fact, by 10:30 a.m., not only had I eaten breakfast, I had also had a couple of snacks and started lunch.

Was this a binge? No, not really. And I say that not because I didn’t eat 750 calories in the space of a few hours (which I did), but because I took several deep breaths between bites, drank quite a bit of water, and really thought about the question: Are you really hungry?

As it turned out, the answer was yes.

So, I ate: an Organic Raw bar, a handful of raw almonds, a serving of tomato and basil soup (also raw), and a zucchini sliced up like Ruffles Potato Chips.

Then, not surprisingly since I had just consumed all that energy, my body wanted to move.

Was this the mind, feeling guilty about all that food? Maybe. I hope not.

So my body and I packed up our work and went to the gym.

And instead of punching in a pre-selected workout, I did whatever my body felt like doing – at whatever length and at whatever level of intensity.

And the minute that she was done – the minute that it even whiffed of punishment – I stopped.

I didn’t push.

I wasn’t disappointed.

In fact, as it turned out, I actually had a better workout (body-wise, heart-rate-wise, and even calorie-wise) when I let her do it.

My weight loss coaches tell me that the body doesn’t like to be defined by a number on the scale and the body certainly doesn’t like counting calories.

While I have let her have her way on the former, I still cling stubbornly to the latter. I’d like to think that I am merely recording what I eat, without actually restricting what I eat, but – in practice – I know that’s not entirely true.

Sometimes I wonder what (and how much) I would eat if I stopped counting calories. Other times I wonder if it would be possible for me to sit down to a meal and not automatically know how many calories were adorning the plate.

My biggest fear is that I would overeat (whatever that means) and that I would do it often.

My coaches, however, would say that if I were truly listening, I would only do it once, because the body doesn’t like to be numbed out, overfull, or stuffed. That if I truly listened, I’d reach for the salad naturally instead of the tahini or the cacao or, better yet, the full-fat, full-sugar ice cream that I haven’t had in months, if not years.

Needless to say, I’m not entirely there yet.

But I am listening – or at least I am trying.

And, perhaps even more importantly, I forgive myself for my inability to trust.

I also keep reminding myself (particularly every time I fire up LoseIt) that the more I listen, the more likely it is that I will eventually hear.

Note to self: Living in the primal brain

I suppose that the title of this blog is somewhat redundant, because isn’t that what a blog is, by definition?

I blogged about how bad I felt after a day of high-fat/low-water content food. I literally felt like crap. It’s amazing what you can do to yourself even when the only thing in your carry on bag is either made out of flax or almond. It’s scary to think of what I might have gotten up to if I’d actually had junk food in there! Or had helped myself even once to the stadium box of glutenous, sugar filled, processed crap that the airlines attendants – good intentions aside – were peddling (or rather, pushing).

But I digress.

My point is that this morning, I woke up feeling amazing!

Yesterday, I reverted back to my old eating and exercise habits – well, actually with a little dose of circumspection thrown in for good measure.

So, even though there may be a couple of extra pounds for a while, it was good to know that I can get back to go – at least in terms of how I feel – with just a little direction, dedication, and – of course – resources. Because goodness knows I like to tell myself that binge wouldn’t have happened if I’d had access to veggies!

(And I’m going to keep telling myself that, for the time being, but there will be more to come on this topic in future posts!)

While most people might read this and think, “Duh!”, I realized that when I fall off the wagon – so to speak – I automatically assume that I’m off the wagon forever. That if I had one bad food day – that’s it! I’ll never be able to eat healthy food again. If I eat cooked food, I’ll never want anything raw again. If I gain 1 pound, I’ll never lose it again! Not only will I never lose it again – 100 of it’s closest friends are going to move back in as well!

I’m sure that this comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever spent anytime around me after a bad food day – it certainly won’t to my sister! – but it was quite the epiphany to me.

I went to a marketing seminar this weekend and the presenter said that when people are in pain, they lose their ability to think rationally in terms of consequences or cause and effect. That they revert immediately to their “primal brain” – the one that is concerned only with survival. They essentially lose the ability to think, which is why some of the best marketing strikes at emotion, as opposed to cognition.

So, I realize – after close to 24 years – that when it comes to me and my weight issues, I go immediately to the primal brain.

So I learned what happens.

And I also learned why it happens.

Unfortunately, I missed the how – that is, how the heck do I stop going there every single time?!

Well, for now I guess it’s enough to know – at least in my human brain – that it does happen and that I can pull myself out the tail spin at any time.

As I work on figuring out the how – including what I can do to put these strategies into place right now, I’ll be sure to share. Just on the off chance anyone else reverts as quickly as I do. And, as always, any suggestions that you might have will be welcomed with open arms!

Ugh! It’s Time To Go Back to Bed and Start Over! (And it’s not even 3 p.m.)

I’m having one of those days.

Low grade binge since about 9:00 a.m. Luckily everything I have access to is healthy: rice cakes, homemade hummus, salad, and almonds. Unfortunately there’s just been way too much of it!

There’s a woman whose weight-loss program I’ve been following whose thing is, “Count Chemicals, Not Calories!” So far I haven’t been able to get with the not counting calories part, but today I’m at least hoping she’s right! I’ve had over 1,600 of the little bastards so far today and, as per the tag line, it’s not yet 3:00!

To tell you the truth, I’m just bored. I’m going to go exercise, try to reset my mood, and see if I can break even for the day. I figure an hour of cardio and some resistance training (coupled with a reasonable dinner) should just about get me there. But even if it doesn’t tomorrow is always another day!

I knew I was going to wish that I had started off the day with yoga! Lesson learned 😉

Setbacks (otherwise known as vacations)

I must admit that I am completely bummed! I caanot believe how much my body has changed after ten days of no k-bells, four days of no cardio, and a six stop winery tour! I barely recognize myself! I look five months pregnant! I mean seriously, I am trying not to use the word “disgusting,” but it is a close thing.

It is at moments like this that I understand how and why people give up on their diets! And this was with me being a pain in the ass about having to make a spiru-tein shake most mornings, eating mostly vegan (when available), and exercising every other day! Not to sound bitter, but if I had known it was going to be this bad I wouldn’t have even bothered! How do people survive who don’t watch what they eat? As I stated earlier, I am most bummed! (And I am sharing it all with you, in all of its gory technicolor detail, because some have suggested to me that I am sanctimonious and that it’s easy to be so when everything’s going okay)! It’s not going okay, but I’m pretty sure – if not absolutely positive – that I can get it back to good.

So what’s the plan?

Well, most likely it will be lose the last ten pounds yet again! I hope it is no more than that but it is hard to say standing naked in front of a mirror beneath the flourescent lights of the airport Hampton Inn! Ugh.

I keep hoping that at least half of it is water because it is well known that your body retains water in order to protect its vital organs from the acid in alcohol. But not even I am delusional enough to think that my body felt so threatened that it decided to hold on to a body of water the magnitude of the Russian River!

Enough, KJ! It would be all too easy to beat myself up over this (and, hey, I’m doing pretty good without even trying), but what I really need to do is develop a reasonable and sustainable plan. Step one: stay off the scale for at least one week after resuming my normal diet and exercise routine. Step two: drop back down to 1200 calories a day. Step three: no matter what, don’t do anything extreme (like try exercising 8 hours a day) or give up. Overkill in either direction at this point, would be a very bad idea!

Who knows? This could be the best thing that happened to my weight loss endeavors!

How so, you ask? Well now that there can be no doubt that I’m taking in enough calories, the weight should just roll right off when I start exercising again, right? Well, it could happen! And, theoretically, it should, holding all else constant.

I’ll keep you posted. And once I’ve been back at it for a week I’ll even tell you how much damage was actually done!

I had a great time, but suffice it to say that I’m glad to be on my back home. I missed my routine, I missed my cats, and I missed having steady Internet access!

And just as an FYI (as if this whole post has been anything but), given the quality of airport food, something tells me that I’ll be having at least one of the new smoothies at Starbuck’s (complete with fiber powder – at Starbuck’s, can you believe it?) all for a mere 280 calories each! Now that I’m back in the real world, I’ll also be sure to let you know how they taste!

One of those days!

I woke up in a great mood today. The sun was shining. I had a good work plan. I had packed a nice, healthy lunch. I decided not to go the gym first thing, because I was going to work out at home with k-bells and maybe even do a little bit of yoga.

Time for some back story: Last week I took my five year old car in for a 60,000 mile tune up. The shop recommended that I have a small seal replaced (as it was still under warranty). It was a bad seal to have leaking, because they had to take the transmission out to get to it. All together, even with the warranty (and $400 worth of rebates from my credit card company) it was still close to $500. Ouch.

As soon as I drove the car off of the lot, I noticed that there was this high pitched airy whine that hadn’t been there before. It wasn’t consistent, though I noticed it more whenever I would shift into third gear. It kept it up all week and then I didn’t drive the car all weekend.

This morning, on my way in, I decided to swing by the auto shop. 1) The whine was much more pronounced. 2) I was also beginning to hear something that sounded broken. 3) When I shifted from third to fourth, the car gave a deep shudder — like a horse on its last legs. I decided to go through town instead of taking the back roads.

Right as I was heading around the town square, in one of the biggest commuter spots in the region — which, granted, really isn’t that big — the car seizes up, shudders, and drops to a dead halt. Whoa, Nelly! I think she’s dead, Jim.

I ran across the street to the local Curves (where I used to workout) called MJ, called the car store, who promptly called a tow truck. When I got back to the car, two minutes later, the police were already there.

I rode with the tow guy to the car place and they dropped me off at work.

What does this have to do with food, you ask?

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve sat it my desk and munched my way through my daily allotted calories — and the clock hasn’t even struck three! More to the point, I realized somewhere between the two Balance bars that I plowed through (within a hour period) that I am on a low grade binge. It’s been a while, but here I am. I thought I’d gotten a better handle on stress-related eating. Apparently I was wrong. Though, not to beat myself up too badly, there were days in the not so distant past that I would have eaten 1,303 calories in an hour, let alone 8 1/2! But still. Sigh.

So, what’s my plan? Well, first things first, I just drank a second slug of Perfect Food to (hopefully) break the cycle.

I also gave in and called the car store and it turns out that I was right. The seal they put in hadn’t set. All of the transmission fluid leaked out. The transmission locked up. And the heat melted/destroyed several of the ball bearings in the transmission (and who knows what else, but if they do know, they’re certainly not saying)!

Good news: their fault, not mine. Towing, repair, and rental are on them. Thank god for small mercies.

After that, I managed to get some work going, but then I hit another wall.

So, as soon as MJ comes to take me to the shop to pick up the rental, I’ll go to the grocery store, head home and exercise. And when I’m done there (depending on the time), I’ll sit down with a huge platter of steamed vegetables, read a couple chapters of a good book, have some herbal tea, and go to bed.

As a famous heroine once said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

My Little Voice

After such a great day yesterday, my little voice reared its ugly head this morning. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t surprised. And further, I assume that it’s going to do that more and more frequently until it realizes that I am no longer listening.

This morning, as I was getting dressed, I tried on a pair of never worn brown pants (and a never worn pair of black pants) that no longer fit. Unfortunately, I do not have the receipts for these. They are, essentially, sunk costs. So immediately my little voice kicks in: You’ve wasted all this money on clothes! You don’t have anything to wear! What are you going to teach in? You’re going to have to spend even more money now! You shouldn’t have bought those to begin with. They look worse now than they did when you were heavier! Maybe you should gain some weight so you won’t have to buy new clothes! It went on and on and on.

I stood there for a moment trying to imagine that my little voice didn’t sound so much like my grandmother who, may she rest in peace, never wasted a cent in her life. In fact, you could give her one and she could give you ten back (she wouldn’t mind you, but she could). I imagined instead that my little voice sounded a little bit like Antonio Banderas. That took the sting out, let me tell you. In fact, thinking about Antonio Banderas whispering in my ear, I was only all too happy to disrobe!

Anyway, once I got the knee jerk reaction to run downstairs and grab some chocolate under control, I took a step back and asked myself: is feeling good about myself and about my body (and everything else that entails) worth the $60 that I spent on these pants that I never intend to wear?

You bet your britches it is!